Some international summits end up generating little more than photo ops on the beach appended to bitterly agreed communiques. Given the perilous state of the world, 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot afford such an outcome.
We therefore welcome the pledge made by US President Joe Biden to buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to donate to poorer countries, and Boris Johnson’s vow to give 100 million vaccine doses within the next year, five million of which will be donated by the end of September.
Getting the whole world vaccinated is not only the right thing to do, it is the best way of ensuring the defeat of Covid-19 and clamping down on future variants of concern.
But, as Tony Blair sets out today, this is about much more than announcing large numbers. We must urgently get jabs into the arms of healthcare workers and at-risk populations around the world, to counter the clear threat of the Delta variant, which Public Health England today reports is 60 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant.
The urgency and enormity of the task are two of the reasons why the Evening Standard is today proud to launch our new project, Vaccine for the World, a year-long undertaking aimed at building a global approach to vaccination.
We will focus on tackling issues around vaccine production, distribution and hesitancy as we move towards global vaccination. With its low price and ease of transportability, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has the potential to vaccinate the world.
But we need to ramp up production so these pledges can be made real, ensure distribution lines are in place and tackle vaccine hesitancy around the world.
That means, as Blair suggests, drawing on data from G7 nations which demonstrates that vaccines work and save lives. Vaccines are working in Britain.
While the Delta variant may delay a full reopening on June 21, and cases are rising among younger people, a return to life as nearly normal remains in sight.
Let us now ensure the entire world catches up.